I guess he didn't have enough time to spend it all so he decided to give the $12 million dollars back. As reported on www.electronicaccountant.com, Michael Kopper, 37, the right-hand man to Enron's former CFO Andrew Fastow, pleaded guilty two weeks ago to money laundering and wire fraud. As part of the plea agreement, Kopper will turn over $12 million in illegal profits and cooperate with the government's continuing Enron investigation. Kopper, former managing director of Enron Global Finance had left Enron to run one of several partnerships created by Fastow.

What shocked me wasn't that he pleaded guilty, but that at 37, he had accumulated $12 million dollars from some of his dealings within Enron. I am sure, he is not the only one who will be caught and convicted. The sums involved are absolutely staggering.

There are going to be some very pointed questions, probably in a criminal prosecution and maybe in a civil suit. They will first be aimed at the executives who ran Enron and eventually will get to those at advising and auditing Enron--in particular Andersen.

In reality, it will probably boil down to one question: Were you stealing from the store or looking the other way, rather than minding the store? "They fooled us" probably won't be an acceptable answer.

Accountants must be very careful because besides trying to lobby against the legislative and regulatory backlash from Enron, Worldcom, and other corporate debacles, they must pay attention to the possibility of eroding public trust. After all, there is only so much blame you can associate with the smarts of 37-year olds. Likewise, I think the shredding of documents only quickened the demise of Andersen. In reality, it was a loss of confidence in Andersen's ability to perform its role. Having Andersen as your auditor, therefore became a liability.

That's is exactly what accountants must protect against--being looked upon as a liability, rather than an asset. So far, I haven't see accountants assuming a role that sufficiently indicates a rebuilding of trust; maybe many are still a little shell-shocked.

Oh, by the way, Kopper says he sorry.

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